Daydreaming about a universal basic income

Obviously social justice Lefties want a Basic Income because of, you know, justice. But business conservatives should also consider the idea: with a basic income (not a luxurious income–we’re talking rent, groceries, and bus fare here) to cushion their potential failures, individuals could experiment more with new, innovative business models. Whether it’s the entrepreneur who wants to launch a potentially game-changing communication device or the single dad who wants to quit McDonald’s to pursue musical theater, a person who knows that failure won’t automatically lead to homelessness and ruin will be more willing to take the risks that lead to innovation (or, to put it in wonk terms, actors become less risk-averse when they have a reliable revenue stream; liquidity will kill you quick, if you don’t have enough capital to stay afloat).



Like any other bill-fearing American I daydream about winning the lottery or earning a universal basic income via a mixture of tax hikes, tax deduction eliminations, and social dividends from a sovereign wealth fund. So it’s probably not a surprise that I’ve greatly enjoyed the most recent foray of Prominent Blog Land into “the world’s simplest plan to end poverty,” i.e., guaranteed basic income —universal or otherwise.

(For a background primer on this idea you should probably just start with the link above. For the purpose of brevity imagine something along the lines of universal Social Security — i.e., you get a monthly income for being a human resident of the country. Acronyms will be used, like UBI [universal basic income] and BIG [basic income guarantee]. These are indeed two separate things, and I credit Mike Konczal for the latter. Given that most folks seem to be discussing…

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One comment

  1. Thanks! Here’s a related piece (more social cohesion-focused) from my buddy Jeff Spross on why reform conservatives should embrace a UBI.

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